Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Happy Birthday, Mozart!

Today is Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's Birthday, January 27, 1756-1791, just 35 years old when he died, not of poisoning but strep throat which led to kidney failure it is thought.

I am a Mozart fan, not an intellectual choice I know, but Mozart's music makes me happy, and such a prodigious output of compositions.  The operas are wonderful and so beautifully composed.  My favorite is "The Marriage of Figaro" with the Countess' aria at the beginning of Act II, "Dove Sono,"  a special favorite, "Oh love give me some remedy."The music is filled with sadness  and longing as she laments her husband's infidelity.

There are many You Tube selections for this particular aria.  And if you have time, "The Making of Amadeus" is worthwhile viewing.  "Amadeus" was filmed in Prague, Czechoslovakia during the communist occupation and the cast and crew had some trying and interesting challenges in the making of the movie, but funny stories as well.

Happy Birthday Mozart!

Friday, January 9, 2015

Viva La France, always

We begin the New Year with a horrific attack on a magazine's editorial office in France.  It left twelve journalists and two police officer's dead.  The Eiffel Tower was in darkness for five minutes in a memorial tribute to the fallen.  And this was not the only terrorist attack.  Over the past year there have been many all over the world.

The problems are huge, and as in the 9/11 attack in New York, this brings the war, and it is a war, closer to home, in this case, Paris.

I have always loved the idea of Paris, even though I have only visited the city and country, three times over the past years.  But when I think about Paris, I see a beautiful city with so much history, history of bad times and good times.  The bloody French Revolution, the occupation of France during World War II, hard times after the war and so many governments, but still she emerged somehow stronger.

This is a task of monumental proportions.  Courage and clarity will be needed in the difficult times ahead for all of us.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

El Santuario de Chamayo and Christmas Miracles

Tucked away in a quiet corner of Chamayo, New Mexico, stands the El Santuario de Chimayo Catholic Church.  Built in 1816, it is one of New Mexico's treasures.

Built of adobe with a bell tower on each side, the chapel is 60 feet long and 24 feet wide, with walls more than three feet thick. You enter through the  adobe courtyard, after first walking up a gravel path with cotton wood trees on the right side and a wire fence on the left.  On the fence are twisted many handmade crosses and many bits of paper with humble requests, messages in spiritual bottles.

With many retablos and other folk art lining the walls on both sides of the chapel, it is a mini art museum of Mexican art glorifying God and the many saints that are part of the Catholic religion.

The church is a glimpse of the past, but the main attraction for many is the "miracle dirt."  Clay has been known through the centuries for its healing powers, and in a small side room off the pacito, or a pit containing "miracle dirt."  Yes, they do replenish the dirt from the nearby hills and one can purchase a small container or use your own to scoop up a bit of "miracle dirt" to take home.  The dirt is believed to be blessed and is used to rub on troubled parts of ones body.  In an adjacent room are crutches and testimonials of those who ascribe  their healing to the miracle dirt.  There is a legend concerning the miracles of its origin.

The power of belief is strong and walking through the church there is a sense of peace and tranquility.

May you have a peaceful and healthy 2015 and perhaps experience a miracle or two of your own.  And a special wish for peace for my Ukrainian friends.

Charles Sargent. photographer